Johnston Press ad revenue fall slows but cuts continue

Regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press reported steadily improving advertising returns today and also said it expected its heavy programme of cuts to reduce costs by around £50m this year.

Johnston Press, which owns the Yorkshire Post and the Scotsman, said over the last ten weeks its advertising revenue was down by 19.1 per cent year on year.

This marked an improvement on a 26.1 per cent year on year advertising revenue fall in the eight weeks prior to that, the company said today in an interim management statement.

Overall, in the first 18 weeks since the end of June advertising fell 22.1 per cent.

In the first six months of the year the publisher reported that ad revenue was down 32.7 per cent on the equivalent period in the previous year.

The company said the greater stability in ad revenue had continued with average weekly advertising revenues in September and October at the same level as those recorded in May and June.

Johnston Press said improvements in the property market offset a continued decline in recruitment related revenues.

As part of it continuing cuts programme the group announced, last month, the closure of printing presses in Kilkenny, in the Republic of Ireland, and in Edinburgh.

Increased redundancy costs will push exceptional costs to almost £12m for the year, the company said. It will also write off the £20m book value of the closed presses.

The company said these additional costs and the £15m it has to pay in fees for arranging a £485m refinancing deal earlier in the year meant there was limited scope for debt reduction in the second half of the year.

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